On Saturday, I went to pick up my writing award. It was a nice presentation. Each of the awards is named after a famous author, and the contest organizers revealed what each author said about the winning entries. Rick Bragg said about my essay, “Strong, really strong. Made me choke up.”
Hopefully that validation will help motivate me to finish the book that I’ve been working on over the last few years.
Just before I left for the ceremony, Mom’s burial flag arrived in the mail. (Even though we had her cremated, she was entitled to a flag for her Navy service and I thought it would be nice to have in a memorial display for her.) I had to take that as a sign that she was watching the day’s events, ever the proud Mom.
And if Mom was watching from the other side, so was Dad, as she wouldn’t have given him a choice! It is a bit odd to celebrate a piece about my dad’s battle with Alzheimer’s, but I know Dad would have been proud of my award too, as he secretly wanted to be a writer, and loved to read. I think he would have forgiven me for making him the subject matter.
Monday marked the four-month anniversary of my mother’s death. While life has moved on and I with it, I still find myself hitting those potholes filled with “I should have done this” or I could have done xyz better” thoughts when it comes to my mom’s care.
I know the road will smooth out eventually. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking for signs and keep moving forward.
I have some exciting news to share: I have been chosen by the Atlanta Writers Club as the 2015 recipient of the Rick Bragg Prize for Nonfiction.
The piece that I submitted, “Greetings from the Nursing Home,” was an essay that I have kicked around for a long time. I began the piece after my first visit with Dad at the nursing home. That was back in 2011.
Since then, the essay has gone through countless revisions, and has been critiqued multiple times. I have submitted the piece numerous times to contests and literary journals for publication.
Each time, it was rejected.
As any writer knows, rejection is part of the process. I kept plugging away. I’ve written other pieces that have been published, I’ve self-published essays on various online platforms, but this one essay was special to me. While finishing my book is my number one writing goal, close behind was getting this essay recognized.
I learned of the honor as I was standing in the middle of what was my parents’ condo. The living room furniture had just been removed, and donated to charity. I was standing in the empty room, considering the new possibilities, when my phone buzzed and I literally jumped for joy after opening the email with the “Congratulations” subject line.
I hope this will inspire all of you, that however you express your caregiving story, whether it is through the arts, sports, spiritually or any other form of expression, don’t give up hope. Your message is being heard, and it will find a proper home.